Sunday, 30 November 2008

Skating in Barcelona

Barcelona is fast becoming the skate capital of the world, with innumerable aspects conspiring to create the most amenable environment to the sport.
The climate makes it possible to skate year-round, the authorities are lax, and the dynamic hip-hop/graffiti/street culture ensures plenty of like-minded people.

The APB (Associació de Patinadors de Barcelona) is a non-profit-making entity whose goal is encouraging inline skating in Barcelona.
They organize weekly free routes through the city. They start each friday at 22.30h in Passeig Marítim with C/Ramón Trias Fargas (close to Vila Olímpica) and their lenght varies between 14Km and 18Km.
These tours have the permit of the city administration, and they are guided by a group of volunteers (stoppers) who control the traffic.
If you'd rather discover Barcelona through a different way, and you like skating, don't hesitate to contact with this entity.

More information:

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Catalan Cuisine. Creativity and Tradition

Catalan cuisine is currently riding a wave and experiencing quite a remarkable level of international exposure. Noted for its innovative capacity, stemming from a centuries-old tradition, Catalan cuisine is in vogue.

This has testified by the Michelin Guide, Europe's oldest and most celebrated gastronomic guidebook that lists the best restaurants and hotels in a dozen European countries. The Michelin star system is based on five basic and solely culinary criteria: the quality of the produce; the mastery of controlling the flavour, and cooking 'au poin'; the character of the cooking; value for money; and constancy.

My selection of Michelin restaurants in Barcelona

ABAC. Av. Tibidabo, 1. Tel. 93 319 66 00
This restaurant with two Michelin Stars, elegant and minimalist, is considered by many as one of Barcelona's very best restaurants, and it's one of my favourite as well. Famed chef Xavier Pellicer creates an innovative, experimental and original cuisine which is the culmination of a long and esteemed professional career. 

He follows prime produce through the season to constantly reinvent his ten-course tasting menu. Flash-seared tuna melts into crunchy, cumin-scented artichoke chips; crisp caramelized skin envelops fork-tender suckling pig; sea urchin royale with fennel foam; tendons, bamboo claims, broccoli mousse and truffle soup. Spain is well-represented on the cheese trolley. Reservations are a must and average dinner prices are from 80-110€

SAÜC. Passatge Lluís Pellicer, 12. Tel. 93 321 01 89
The latiest among Barcelona's new breed of intimate chef-driven restaurants, Saüc proves that you don't need El Bulli. The modest space is brightened by the presence of Anna Doñate, who's as passionate about service as her husband, chef Xavier Franco, is about food.

The menu changes seasonally, but always consists of eight starters, ten main courses (five fish and five seafood), and six desserts. A few dishes have become classics, including crispy ham with squid and artichokes, and magnificient slow-roasted suckling pig with velvety meet capped by a brittle crust of its own skin.  At lunchtime there's a menu that will rise up to 40€ with wine and coffee. So decide for the degustation menu, as the level of the simple one is not the same.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Barcelona's best hot chocolate

Barcelona is the epicenter of cacao. Forget Belgium and Switzerland. Barcelona as a city puts these other coutries to shame. We drink their thick dark hot chocolate in the morning, as a mid day snack at night, accompanied by sweet bready churros. 
Of course, among the gallons consumed, some hot chocolates are better than others. 
Here is my guide to drinking this brown gold.

Granja M Viader. C/Xuclà, 4-6
The chocolate milk drink Cacaolat (a bottled sweet chocolate milk) was invented here in 1931 and is still offered. I really recommend their suisse hot chocolate with whipped cream. Amazing! (Honey and cottage cheese dish is also great)

Dulcinea. C/Petritxol, 2
Perhaps the best chocolate and melindros (a catalan soft pastry perfect for dipping in the chocolate) in the city. Established in 1930, Dulcinea gains its namesale from Don Quixote's love, but gains its reputation for their lovely thick chocolate.

Gelateria Xocolateria Santa Clara. C/Baixada de la Llibreteria, 2
Hidden in a corner of Plaça Sant Jaume, this place has great hot chocolate and homemade churros, also their ensaimada pastries are not to be missed either. Open early, it's best to come here for a chocolatey breakfast.

Fargas. C/Pi, 16
Adorned with the same rustic décor sine 1937, this old-time chocolate shop is one of the most famous in Barcelona. Their hot chocolate is a definite must on every chocolate-touring itinerary.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Barcelona's tapas bars

Inopia is run by Alberto Adrià, the younger brother and partner of Ferran Adrià, at this point perhaps the best-known chef in the world. There is nothing at Inopia that is not at least intriguing. You can order ham croquettes in any tapas bar, but here they are made with jamón ibérico, and they are certainly superior. The menu is huge, and with precious ingredients, prepared and served simply. The frying is done in olive oil, as it is throughout the best places in Spain. Don't pass up the opportunity to taste their delicious anchovy fillets, the torta Canarejal, and a sliced confit tuna belly. At Inopia it somehow seems to be vastly superior than the touristic bars along Las Ramblas... and consequently more expensive. So, don't forget your credit card!

Bar Tomas (in outlying Sarrià) gets trainloads of patata brava fans evey weekend. What's the secret? Its salsa brava. It varies a lot from chef to chef. Bar Tomas is one of the most popular places in Barcelona due to his bravas. Don't pass it up!

But my favourite is a bar/restaurant in Gracia called Samsara. This trendy restaurant has built up quite a following among Gràcia foodies. I recommend you their sweety potatoes with pesto, king prawns with popcorns and parma cheese, pincho of prawns and bloody sausage, watermelon gazpacho with basil oil... and a brownie of white chocolate with pistachios... Nice alternative tapas at good prices.  
This is a cool place to hang out as well, since afterwards, the place became a bar to drink and mingle while a DJ plays lounge. 

Monday, 17 November 2008

Shooting in Barcelona

Pedro Almodóvar, Tom Tykwer, Cédric Klapisch, Giovanni Veronesi, Peter Greenaway, Alejandro Amenabar, Fernando Trueba and Woody Allen are just some of the directors who have used the city as a location for their films.

Turisme de Barcelona and the Escola Universitària d'Hoteleria i Turisme CETT-UB, are launching a series of themed itineraries, called Barcelona Movie Walks, about films shot in Barcelona. You can find different walking tours:

- Pedro Almodovar's Barcelona based on his film "All about My Mother", which was mainly shot in Barcelona in 1998. For the first time, Almodóvar decided that the main setting for one of his films would be Barcelona instead Madrid, and feature such well-known landmarks as the Sagrada Familia and the Palau de la Música Catalana.

- Erasmus Students' Barcelona based on the film "L'Auberge Espagnole", shot in Paris and Barcelona in 2001 and considered to be the first Erasmus movie. In the words of the director Cédric Klapisch, Barcelona was the ideal city to shoot this film, because it is highly photogenic. He also added that it is a city that has attained a mythical status for many young people in Europe who dream of visiting it.

- The Barcelona of Perfume based on the film "Perfume: The Story of a Murderer", which was filmed in Barcelona, Catalonia and Provence in 2005. Barcelona provided the ideal natural setting in order to recreate 18th-century Paris. The streets, squares and buildings in Barcelona's Gothic Quarter and other parts of te city brought to life the story of an obsession based around scents and perfumes.

- Barcelona of Manuale d'Amore based on the film "Manuale d'Amore 2", which was filmed in Rome and Barcelona in 2006. The Sagrada Familia, the Gothic Quarter, the Olympic Village, the Olympic Marina and the beaches of the Barceloneta are just some of the locations that show us a Mediterranean city stepped in history.

More information:

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Strolling around Gràcia

Gràcia is not a touristy section of Barcelona. Nevertheless, it's certainly worth the visit if you enjoy strolling around quaint streets and want to escape the "big city" feel for a small town, alternative vibe.

The Plaça de Rius i Taulet, Plaça Revolució, Plaça del Diamant and Plaça de la Virreina are vibrant centers of activity and good places to look for outdoor food and drink. But the most popular is The Plaça del Sol (you can see the photo) at the center of the quarter. In this square you can find a great concentration of bars (and people) and gets really lively at the weekends. 

One of the most famous is The Mond Bar. This tiny, trendy bar is a magnet for mellow barflies who come to mingle, smoke and listen to DJ-spun tunes, including techno, pop, soul and 1970s classics.

MOND BAR. Plaça del Sol, 21
Open: from 20.30h to 3h
More info:

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

The nightlife in Barcelona

Anyone and everyone can find a place to go out in Barcelona. The city is thriving with a vast array of interesting places, each providing a different, distinct atmosphere to fit your mood. You can find all kinds of locales, from national to international, laid back pubs and bustling discos
The popularity of some places depends on the time of year it is... in the summer those terraces on the beach are most popular and in the winter people flock to old town (Barrio Gótico)

Barcelona nightlife is one of the best in all of Spain. And much like the rest of the country, it starts later than most are used to; therefore it also goes longer, usually into the early hours of the following day. There are endless bars and pubs lining the streets in the different districts of the city, along with different kinds of clubs and discos. With the time to eat dinner being so late in the evening, it is common that most of the bars and discos don't fil up with people until late as well.

My selection of Nightclubs

SALA APOLO. The Apolo Club, one of my favorite clubs, has 2 different spaces: Sala Apolo and la [2] de Apolo. The club is a cocktail of music, hip hop, funk, rock, indie, fusion and techno. Famous also for the music of national and international DJ's. It is also frequented by new generations. Open until 5:00am. 
Address: C/Nou de la Rambla 113 (Paral·lel L3)
More info:

SALA RAZZMATAZZ. Five totally different clubs in one. You can find the RAZZ Club with rock, techno, pop, punk... the POP Bar with pop and indie-pop; REX room with technopop, gothic rock, minimal pop; the LOFT for the lovers of techno and LOLITA with electropop, electropunk and house. This club is famous for its concerts with national and international artists. Don't forget to eat churros with a hot chocolate near the subway of Marina after dancing all night!
Address: Almogàvers, 122 (Bogatell L4  / Marina L1 )
More info:

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Getting lost in the Gothic Quarter

Saint Felip Neri square is a romantic and peaceful place just behind Plaça de Garriga Bachs off the side of the cloister of the Catedral de la Seu. This square was once the cemetery for Barcelona's executed heroes and villains, before all church graveyards were moved to the south side of Montjuïc where the municipal cemetery now resides. A favorite spot for early-music concerts, the square is centered on a fountain, whose trickling -- a constant E-flat -- fills the square with its own water music. A bomb explosion during the Spanish civil war caused the pockmarks on the walls of the Saint Felip Neri church.

Basic information
Address: Paseo de Palau Episcopal (08002 Barcelona)
Nearest subway: Jaume I / Liceu  
Open hours: 24 hrs
Notes: This area is best visited during daylight hours

Bars&Restaurants nearby
Bliss. Pl. Sant Just 4. Tel. 93 268 10 22
This small restaurant has three space. One for lunch, another for rest with sofas and finally tables outside on the tiny Plaça Sant Just. There's a nice menu lunchtime, while sandwich, pizza, cakes and cookies are available all day

Monday, 10 November 2008

Barcelona, the trip of a lifetime.

This month we're going to talk about Barcelona. I find that in Barcelona there's really loads of energy. The centre is exciting, everybody wants to go to the centre of the city. And sometimes I think it's mad the amount of people you can find... Like a crossroads of different cultures and different customs. Here there's a bit of everything for everybody, I suppose. And you can find it, if you walk round the streets.

Well, yes, all those contrasts between quiet, little squares (plazas) and streets full of stores. You can walk down those streets, go shopping, and then go to a street a bit outside the centre and find a place without so many people and relax... gardens, under the shade of the trees...

I like the diversity of Barcelona and surrounding area. For me, it's unique, and I'm not exaggerating, really I'm not. Because, it's awesome how you can be on the beach one moment and, then, get on a train and fifteen minutes later be in the mountains.

It's so easy to meet people... You go to a hostel, and everybody there want to meet new people. And if you worry that "I'm not going to  meet anybody", just forget your worries, because it happens naturally, it happens simply because everybody is in the same boat. People think: "Oh, I won't meet anybody interesting". And as soon as people realize that you need to meet somebody, the come up to meet you.

Barcelona for me is that: simply having the chance to experience this atmosphere, this attitude people have. You can look them in the eye, and they will look at you same way and smile.... people more are open. 

Let's discover together through this blog the authentic Barcelona! Anyway, if you have the opportunity to come here, don't pass it up.